Kanye West's Saint Pablo Tour Cancellation: What's the Damage?
Kanye West has had a rocky week, one that included on-stage monologues supporting Donald Trump, lambasting Beyonce and Jay Z while cutting short a performance in Sacramento on Nov. 19 after just 30 minutes, and the cancellation of a make-up show in Los Angeles Nov. 20. Today, Billboard confirmed that West has now nixed the rest of his Saint Pablo Tour, which had 21 dates remaining and was scheduled to last through the end of the year. While canceling one date is complicated enough, what's the damage when the number climbs past 20?
Counting the rescheduled, then canceled, final Los Angeles date, West is on the hook to refund 22 dates of the tour. According to Billboard Boxscore, of the 26 dates reported from the Saint Pablo Tour so far, West had grossed $34.5 million on attendance of 396,972, numbers that include the final Forum date before its eventual cancellation. The 22 canceled dates will force ticket refunds worth about $27.3 million, Billboard estimates, including multi-night runs in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. One important note: Billboard Boxscore includes the 26 shows reported by Live Nation so far, though the Forum cancellation knocks that number down to 25; West has played 40 shows in total to date on this tour.
Canceling a tour of this magnitude is not unprecedented; Lady Gaga was forced to cancel the final 22 dates of her Born This Way Ball Tour in 2013 after requiring surgery for a labral tear in her right hip, prompting $25 million worth of ticket refunds. In Gaga's case, however, she was likely covered by insurance that would have kicked in due to injury; as an industry standard, a major tour along the lines of hers would be covered by various levels of insurance, including expenses related to shutting down the tour, advertising costs and lost revenues for both the promoter and performer.
However, West's situation is slightly more unclear. A rep for West said in a statement only that the dates have been canceled, and that tickets will be fully refunded at point of purchase, but did not state a reason for the cancellation, leaving the insurance question up in the air. In October, West added more than 20 shows to the original Saint Pablo run, which make up the bulk of the canceled dates.
After the Born This Way Ball Tour was cut short, Billboard broke down the mechanisms behind the complicated, multi-faceted process behind ending the outing, including notifying venues, preparing press releases, implementing massive production shutdowns and figuring out the logistics of not only getting the staging and production gear returned home, but also the 130-odd cast and crew that was working on the tour.